I have a Dell Latitude c600 laptop that I like to use for light work or when I’m on the go. Between overall awkwardness and to age of the laptop I have found it hard to find a Linux distribution that runs well without too much configuration. This isn’t my main computer so I’ve been putting it off until today.
After trying Vector, Xubuntu, Puppy, and SimplyMEPIS I heard a friend recommending Zenwalk after he had great success on his older Dell laptop. Then I saw the most recent release of Zenwalk version 6.2 was just released yesterday, so I decided to give Zenwalk a shot. I burned the Zenwalk 6.2 Standard edition .ISO file onto a CD. The installation went smoothly although it wasn’t as easy as when I installed Ubuntu. The part that trips most users up is the partitioning. I used automatic partitioning option in Zenwalk and had no problems.
After restarting the system and waiting for it to boot I was brought to the Zenwalk login window.
I logged in and was brought to the XFCE desktop.
Right away the desktop icon dock/panel at the bottom of the desktop caught my eye. It contained the Iceweasel web browser, Totem movies player, Icedove email client, a link to the command line, file browser, desktop settings, network manager, and the sound mixer. Recently I’ve gotten in to using docks because they save me a few seconds on each click. The downside is some are heavy on the resources however the Zenwalk dock was quick to load and my dock experience was very pleasant. Right click on the dock and select from the menu to customize it.
Icons and Wallpaper
The icons, wallpaper and overall desktop feel is great with the default setting of Zenwalk 6.2 enabled. The wallpaper features a medium blue background with a lighter, semi-transparent swirl. I found the appearance of Zenwalk to be of a higher quality than many other distros. The orange Zenwalk logo in the bottom right matches the smaller one on the left and the tiny logo in the top left that serves as the menu. Although this looks nice I’m not sure that such a small icon is the best way to announce where your menu is located. Desktop switcher and power options appear on the right side of the top panel.
Two things I liked about the XFCE menu of Zenwalk are how simple and quick it is. The icons are small and clean positioned to the left of each menu item. The menu includes applications for multimedia like Brasero bruner, Exhaile music player, ISO master and more. The entire OpenOffice suite is available in the Office area of the menu while GIMP is available for image editing in Graphics. A few Network applications include Pidgin, gFTP, Transmission and more. Down a little further on the menu you’ll see Accessories, Settings, System and Logout options. Settings and System are where you’ll make most of the changes to Zenwalk. Unless of course you’re using the command line.
Although it’s hard to pass judgment on any Linux distro without using it for a few days, Zenwalk looks good. We’ll see how long it holds up.